Miami Hurricanes Baseball: Collins Powers Miami Past Florida in 5-3 Victory

Jun 15, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins (0) watches a ball in the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins (0) watches a ball in the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night, the Miami Hurricanes missed a huge opportunity to score and eventually paid for it. Tonight, the Canes made sure that would not happen again.

Powered by four RBI from Zack Collins and a solid second start from Michael Mediavilla, Miami (5-1) bounced back from a horrid performance Friday night to beat Florida (6-1) 5-3 in game two at a sold-out Mark Light Field.

“It’s a big win for us, no question,” Coach Jim Morris said after the game. “Florida’s got an outstanding club and it was big challenge for us tonight with [A.J.] Puk out there. I’m proud of the way our guys played and it was just a huge win for us.”

After getting dominated by the Gators No. 1 starter Logan Shore, it seemed like the Canes would nit get any respite with the hard-throwing and potential Top 10 pick A.J. Puk on the hill. Reaching the high 90’s with his fastball, the 6’7” lefthander set Miami down in order in the first with two strikeouts and it looked like the Hurricanes might struggle mightily again. In the second inning, Miami finally got on the board against the Gators.

Jacob Heyward began the rally with a infield single off the body of A.J. Puk and Willie Abreu followed with perfect execution of a hit-and-run driving a single into left with Heyward on the move. With runners on first and second and no outs, Miami’s star man at the moment, Johnny Ruiz, delivered another clutch hit with a double down the left field line. Heyward came around to score, but Abreu was thrown out at the plate and the Canes took a 1-0 lead to the third.

Michael Mediavilla ran into some trouble in the third as he allowed his first hit of the game on a Buddy Reed bloop single to right. After Reed stole second, J.J. Schwarz immediately cashed in for Florida with a single of his own into right field to score Reed and tie the game up at 1-1. The Miami southpaw was not rattled though as he got out of the inning with no more damage and a chance for the Hurricanes to jump ahead.

Peter Crocitto helped the Canes attempt to do just that as he led off the bottom of the third with a double past a diving Reed in center. Chester followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Puk fumbled with it as he saw the speedy Miami center fielder churn down the line and the big lefthander couldn’t even get a throw off. The next batter, Chris Barr, was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded with none down for Zack Collins.

A night ago, Miami’s catcher came up with runners on the corners and no outs and could not capitalize on the massive opportunity. Tonight, he made sure no opportunities would be missed and showed why he is in the running for college baseball’s most prestigious honor, the Golden Spikes Award. Collins hit a sharp grounder passed Deacon Liput at second and into right, scoring Crocitto and Chester. While Miami could not extend their 3-1 lead in the third, they did chase Puk after just 2.2 innings and got into the Florida bullpen much earlier than they likely anticipated.

Mediavilla kept the Gators scoreless in the top of the fourth and then in the bottom half of the inning, the Hurricanes got all the insurance runs they needed. Edgar Michelangeli began the inning with a walk and advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt from Crocitto. After Chester was plunked by a pitch and Barr walked, it was that man Collins who delivered once again as the junior smoked a two-RBI single into right field. With the way Miami’s bullpen has pitched with a lead this season, a 5-1 lead in the fourth was all they needed.

Mediavilla finished up a solid outing in the fifth, allowing just two hits, one run and four walks, while striking out four. For his second career start against the top team in the nation, that’s not too shabby.

“I think in the first inning I set the tempo for the game, but then I did start missing some pitches and putting just a few too many guys on base,” Mediavilla said when asked about his start. “All in all they are a great lineup, but I think I did pretty well tonight.”

Miami’s offense didn’t manage much the rest of the game, but Frankie Bartow followed up Mediavilla with a nice 2.1 innings in which he allowed just one run and three hits. Like they have all season when leading after seven, Cooper Hammond entered and allowed just one run while Bryan Garcia got just one out, but picked up his third save of the season.

It was a nice effort and a solid victory from the Hurricanes, especially after two sub-par performances against St. Thomas and against Florida in game one. They got contributions from their offense, their starting pitching and from their bullpen and against a team like the Gators, you need all three facets of the team to click and they did just that tonight.

Another noticeable difference was the energy that the Canes played with. After a big strikeout or a big hit or even Heyward’s infield single in the second, Miami showed passion and emotion that was just absent in Friday’s opener.

“I think yesterday when they hit the two-run home run we got a bit down, but I think we were definitely trying to get back more at them tonight and we’ll do the same tomorrow,” Zack Collins said when asked about the team’s renewed energy.

Headed into the rubber game Sunday afternoon, the Canes will hope they can repeat their success from 2014 and take a series from the Gators. It is only two weekends into the season, but a series win over Florida will carry so much weight when the national seeds are announced in May.

“My freshman year in 2014 we won the series here and I think it was just last year that this group struggled against them,” Collins said. “We are looking to win this series obviously, send them back home with a loss and then carry it with us the rest of the season.”

The Miami Hurricanes were dominated by the Florida Gators last night, but in front of a crowd of 4,999 and in a game against their biggest rivals, the Canes made sure that wasn’t going to happen again.